Evergrande Creditors Demand Further Explanation For Billions In Seized Cash
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Evergrande Creditors Demand Further Explanation For Billions In Seized Cash

A group of foreign creditors to China Evergrande Group is asking the company for more information related to the seizure of 2.8 billion of cash at its property services arm.

Thu, Jul 28, 2022 12:04pmGrey Clock 3 min

A group of offshore creditors to China Evergrande Group are demanding additional information about the seizure of nearly $2.8 billion by local banks that could explain how the troubled property developer pledged the funds without investors’ knowledge, according to people familiar with the matter.

Last Friday, Evergrande released the preliminary results of an investigation into the missing funds pledged as security for loans by an offshore subsidiary that manages Evergrande-built properties. Evergrande also announced last week that it ousted its longstanding chief executive officer, Xia Haijun, and its finance chief, Pan Darong, over their involvement in the arrangements, as well as four executives from Evergrande and its subsidiary.

However, some creditors don’t believe that the company sufficiently explained how the funds were guaranteed to banks without any form of disclosure to investors, and they haven’t received any explanation beyond what the company has said publicly about the seized cash, people familiar with the matter said.

This week, a group of Evergrande’s largest offshore creditors, which own secured debt backed by assets at the subsidiary, wrote to the company requesting additional information on which executives were directly responsible for the pledges, which banks enforced their claims on the assets and how the company specifically plans to compensate them for the lost funds, which represent most of the subsidiary’s cash, the people said.

The continuing tension between Evergrande and its foreign creditors highlights how Evergrande has struggled to meet investors’ demands for transparency nearly eight months since it defaulted on its foreign debts and just days before the anticipated release of a restructuring plan the company promised to deliver by the end of this month.

Evergrande and advisers to the company’s offshore creditors didn’t return requests seeking comment.

Last week, Evergrande published preliminary details related to its investigation of 13.4 billion yuan (about $2.8 billion) in cash pledges at its Hong Kong-listed property management unit, Evergrande Property Services Group Ltd., which guaranteed third-party borrowings diverted to the parent company.

Banks later seized the funds, which were used to help finance the parent company’s general operations from late 2020 until the end of 2021, when the third-party borrower failed to repay the debt, according to the report.

The seized funds constitute more than 90% of the property service arm’s 14.03 billion yuan cash holdings as of June 30, 2021, according to the subsidiary’s interim statement.

“It seems to me that Evergrande has leveraged the majority of cash in the service arm to feed the parent company,” said Iris Chen, a credit analyst at Nomura International Hong Kong Ltd.

“Given that the service arm is a key asset that is directly held by the parent group, the misuse of cash will hurt the valuation of the service arm and therefore impact the recovery value of the parent company’s offshore bonds,” she said.

Analysts and investors said the incident will likely weigh on investors’ ultimate recoveries in a debt restructuring and underscores longstanding transparency concerns raised by Evergrande’s offshore creditors. The company and bondholders have sparred in the past over inadequate disclosures, and foreign bondholders have previously threatened to sue or liquidate the company for failing to engage with them.

“From the disclosure, one can see the poor corporate governance of Evergrande in the past, and the type of off-balance sheet debt arrangement it made, which negatively impacts bondholders’ overall recovery,” said Michel Lowy, co-founder and CEO at SC Lowy, a Hong Kong-based high-yield and distressed-debt manager.

Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer with more than $500 billion in liabilities, defaulted on its U.S. dollar bonds in December after monthslong liquidity problems, and its Hong Kong-listed shares have been suspended since March.

The company’s debt restructuring is progressing amid a property crisis in China, where crackdowns on excessive borrowings have led to real-estate developer defaults and stalled housing projects. Outraged by long-overdue construction projects, home buyers have threatened to stop mortgage payments on unfinished apartments.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 27, 2022.


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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


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